Sunday, March 29, 2009

Austin Hangouts

Every Thursday I go to hangout with friends after work. Nothing fancy, just a group that likes to sit down, have some dinner, maybe some coffee, and bullshit for a few hours. Invariably, we all tend to haunt the same dives in Austin for our merriment. Figured I'd at least share some of the better places to go kick around.

Taking ordersSpiderhouse: one of my local haunts for the last few years. Spiderhouse is rather ... eclectic. Even for a coffee house. Spiderhouse wasn't so much designed as organically grown. Most of the seating is outside either under the porch awning, out on the brick patio, or under the gigantic pecan trees out back. They food is ok. It's mostly vegetarian. Not particularly my thing. But I don't go there for the food, I go there for the occasional good DJ playing while we're relaxing with friends, the decent cup of hot chocolate or apple cider when it's cold, or the pint or two of Liveoak Heffe that's needed when it's blazingly hot out.

Peeling wall paperRuby's BBQ: Ruby's is a stone's through from Spiderhouse. If you're a meatasaurus rex and you're craving meat, it's the place to go if you're up near campus. Another one of Austin's hole-in-the-walls, the place looks like it's about to fall apart. The tiny one-toilet men's room is covered in graffiti and you have to squeeze your fat ass into the door because it's just so damn tight. But the staff is good, the brisket is better, and the cobbler ... pretty damned tasty.

Sometimes you have to break an egg to make a sandwichDirty Martin's: I found out about this place a few months back. If you could throw a stone and hit Ruby's from Spiderhouse, you could hit Dirty Martin's with a bow and arrow ("I fire an arrow into the air and where it lands I know not ... ooooh! damn, it hit Dirty's"). Yet another greasy spoon in Austin. If you have a heart condition, this is probably not the place for you. Serving one of the best quadruple bypasses in the city, Dirty's is the place to go for hamburgers and fries. This is one of the line cooks. I never caught his name, but his expressions are hilarious when you catch him listening to conversations. Nice guy. Sit at the bar if you can. One of the more classic diner feels in Austin. Oh, and the milkshakes aren't half-bad either.

Changing of the Guard

Take this job and shovel it!
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Friday was my last day at work. After almost 11 years there, it was clear that I needed a change of pace. I start the new job on Monday. Same type of work, different setting. It should be slower paced and more relaxed. Not much to say beyond that. I'll probably have a bit more time to work on my photography. I'm going to miss working with those folks. Quite a few were like family.

Friday evening quite a few of us met up for happy hour at Serranos to send off me (and my boss, who coincidentally, also found a new job too). Took a few photos, had some taken of me. It was quiet, but good. Sad to go, but looking forward to the change.

CliveDavid H.BrittanyDavid C.PugMikeDonDavid H.EveryoneDenverDavid C.DonaldDavid C.Brett C-W.QuentinBrett S.David H.Craig

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

White: The Prequel.

Girl PowerNot much of a blog update. I've been furiously working my way through photos from three photo shoots over the last week and a half, trying to get everything edited, uploaded, and distributed out to their respective models and clients.

And I'm bushed.

Donica and I had a shoot Wednesday two weeks ago. She wanted to do something different and I wanted to practice with my new white muslin. I think it worked out well. Especially when you realize that up until this point, I'd stuck to grays and blacks for backgrounds. This was something completely different. The work I did with Donica in understanding how to use this tool ended up being put to good use in the White: The New Experiment.

Beats me!
Overall, I'm fairly happy with how the high key photos turned out. We shot some low key things too. Mostly because I was getting bored with the white and wanting to try something different that evening. I've shown some of the high key photos around and gotten some good feedback. Mostly, I need to watch out for having the model wash right out into the background and get some tile board for the front part of the muslin ( the part nearest the camera) in order to help get rid of the cloth ripples I was experiencing (and about ready to bang my head through the studio wall because of it too).

In other news, there's been someone of a heated discussion on the Strobist Austin discussion group regarding allowing the group to accept moderate photos in the pool. There are some decent reasons, both for and against for doing this. Don't speak ... it only breaks the silence.Tonight after considering the comments (of which, most came from moderators ... I don't know what that means ... do we just care more because we have to work at keeping the pool clean?) In the end, I opened it up to see how well we deal with it. If it becomes a problem, I guess we'll figure it out then. We're all adults, I think we can handle this.

Anywhoo, without further ado ... more Donica photos! Enjoy.



Lounging without the Bonbons.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Austin Music Awards circa 2009

Austin Music Awards 2009-1766.jpgWhew! What a busy week. You may remember that I mentioned the 2009 Austin Music Awards a few weeks back. Well, the show has finally come and gone and it was definitely a blast! This year's lineup included Bob Schneider and the Fireants, The Dicks, Augie Meyers, and many, many others.

The two differences from last year is that I was allowed access backstage during the show thanks to the work of my friend Scarlett and the graciousness of Margaret Moser. Since I wasn't officially part of the staff crew, when I arrived, I had Scarlett walk me around backstage to introduce me to the key folks I'd be encountering. These were the people I wanted to make sure I paid attention to! If they told me to get the !@#$% out of the way, I wanted to get out of the way. Austin Music Awards 2009-1316.jpgSecond, my friend Quentin loaned me his Nikon 80-200 f2.8 lens (practically insisted when I waffled on it). I must say, while that lens is heavy ... it's about 3lbs I think, not including the camera body ... it was worth it; damn, is the bokeh on it creamy like butter. I was getting great separation of elements in my photos this time.

Thankfully, nothing happened. I went back several times throughout the show but didn't camp out. The space was rather tight and people were moving too quickly to get good candid photos (I did get a few!) so I focused on staying frontstage.

About halfway through the show, I started walking around to find a different vantage point for the photos. That's when I noticed that there were two balconies above the stage on either side. An adventure awaits! The first balcony I went to (stage right) I got politely rebuffed. They were partially using it as a dressing area for the women helping musicians and entertainers across the stage. My second attempt, which had me over on stage left balcony was fruitful. I walked up to the security guy, asked if I could get back there, flashed my staff badge, and voila! The Pearly Gates parted, harmonious music was playing, golden light ... wait, that was from the set being played on stage. But, you know what I mean. Austin Music Awards 2009-1569.jpgI had an excellent view of the band looking into the crowd. The bad news: it was from the side (but that's ok!). The good news: I had maneuvering room! By the time I got up here, The Dicks were playing and that's when I noticed the mad rush of the crowd and fans towards frontstage despite security's ability to do anything about it. I wouldn't have been able to move at all.

But, again. That's ok. I had a vantage point that no other photographer was going to get (thanks to Scarlett and Margaret)! I ended up there a few more times throughout the evening.

In all, I ended up with just shy of a thousand photos from the entire evening. I've whittled it down to 166 really good ones and uploaded them to flickr. Austin Music Awards 2009-1810-2.jpg Nothing as dramatic as the photo I got of The Judy's lead singer throwing water into the crowd, but I got some extremely good ones of The Dicks lead interacting with the crowd and some good ones of Augie Meyers.

Feel free to check out the 2009 Austin Music Awards photo set on my flickr stream.
I hope you like 'em as much as I do. I'm looking forward to shooting the Awards Show again. If you want, you can jump straight to the slideshow!

Oh, and before you ask, I don't know who some of the musicians are. I have to work with Scarlett to make sure I get everything noted properly on the photo descriptions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

White: The new experiment!

SM Hertz March Shoot-0644-Edit
A few weeks back, I picked up two new tools for my photographic arsenal of DOOM! One was a white muslin which I needed for a photo shoot. The second was a Nikon D300. Like chocolate and peanut butter, I've discovered that these are just two great tastes that taste great together.

There was a bit of a learning curve with both the camera and the muslin, but I'm slowly getting in the groove of things. I absolutely love the feel of the D300. It's entirely different from the D40 I started out with. It feels better in my hands, fits better, and I'm finally able to properly play with my 50mm f1.8 (which wouldn't autofocus on the D40).

I wasn't sure about the muslin when I got it. I tend to steer towards the dark side when it comes to my photography. I like it low key, lots of shadow, lots of room to hide in. But man, after seeing how well some of these photos came out, I'm thinking I found a new toy to play with more often. The downside to the white muslin is that I still haven't figured out how to deal with ripples in the fabric on the floor. If I can't figure out how to get those blown out (without having to photoshop), I'll have to pick up a few pieces of tile board to hide them.

But, if I keep the photo limited to a 3/4 shot and ignore the floor? Man, it's just sexy how the light works so well. All of these photos were done with a pair of AB-800's pointed into the muslin at 1/2 power. There was also an AB-800 shooting through a gridded softbox off to camera right at about 45 degrees off of center. Just enough to light the model and let there be some depth in the photo with the shadow and falloff.

The models for this shoot were fabulous. Definitely going to be shooting with them again I think.

Oh, and stay tuned! I'll have some teaser photos later this week from the Austin Music Awards on Wednesday. I'm definitely excited about that!

And now, for more photos!

SM Hertz March Shoot-0655

SM Hertz March Shoot-0660


Whirling Dirvish

SM Hertz March Shoot-0788

SM Hertz March Shoot-0906

SM Hertz March Shoot-0973

SM Hertz March Shoot-0997

SM Hertz March Shoot-0813

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I won a gold Austin ADDYs award!

AIDS BikeWell, ok, I helped win an ADDY to be more precise. A gold one, at that! A few months back, I got contacted by John Livingston via flickr. He's art director for nFusion here in Austin. It's a local advertising and marketing firm. John happened across a photo I took a year ago on a photowalk.

I didn't think much about the photo at the time. It was a red bike with a sign on it discussing what it was worth to someone with AIDS. I sat down on the ground, framed, clicked, and moved on. Fast forward to December '08. John contacts me, tells me about his involvement in the campaign and that he wants to use my photo as part of the submission to the 2009 Austin ADDYs Award.

Sure, why not? At worst, nothing came of it. At best, I get a bit of recognition out of it. For a photo that I didn't expect much out of after taking it, what could I lose? So, after a bit of discussion, I licensed it to them for use in their submission.

Today I received this email.


Hey this is John Livingston from nFusion. I thought you might like to know that the picture you contributed was part of a gold award-winning campaign at the 2009 Austin ADDY awards. I just wanted to thank you for allowing us to use your great photograph.

Here’s a link to the brochure they made with the winners. Look for your name on page 19 under the Red Bike Campaign:

Unfortunately they didn’t feature your picture of the bikes in the book, but your image was used in our entry.

So now you can say you won an Austin ADDY ward. Nice job!


And, sure enough, I downloaded the PDF and found an attribution.

Austin ADDYs!

Woot! It's not much, but what the heck. A bit of exposure for something I likely wouldn't have done anything more than keep in my flickr stream. I think that's a fair exchange for the amount of effort put into the photo.

So yeah, I'm happy claiming I helped win a gold Austin ADDYs Award.